RockIt Careers

Are You Ready for a Raise or Promotion?

Everyone wants a little extra money in their pocket and one of the ways to do that is to ask your employer for a raise or a promotion. However, there is a good way and a bad way to go about doing this. Today, we’re going to walk through a few pieces of advice to make your arguments for a raise or promotion successful.

Focus on Your Work First

Before you think about asking for a raise or promotion, you have to show that you deserve it. Arrive early to work and be the first person in the office. Ask to take on extra duties or responsibilities. Find ways that will make yourself and others achieve more in less time. Discover cost-savings. Don’t stop until whatever you’ve been assigned is done. In other words, your at work to work, not play all day. Find ways to stand out by going the extra mile for your employer.

Giving your all while on the job will set you apart from the rest of the team and put you in good graces with the boss who will see you as a valuable asset that they don’t want to lose. When choosing projects or responsibilities to volunteer for, consider the skills and experience you’ll have a chance to acquire. The more you learn and do, the better prepared you’ll be for a promotion when the opportunity arises. So don’t just consider things that you know you can do, go outside your comfort zone and take on things where you can learn something new.

Timing is Everything

First of all, make sure that you are asking for a raise or promotion after you had a significant success. Asking for one after you’ve just been late to work three times in a week is not going to get you very far. But if you do it right after you just played a key role in a big roll-out of something new for the team, department, or company…well then you have a boss with receptive ears.

Secondly, don’t blindside your manager by just showing up in their office door with your request. This will make them feel like you’ve just put them into an awkward position and, in all likelihood, they won’t be able to give you an answer immediately because unless they are the CEO, they have to get approvals. A better approach would be to send an email request for a 30 minute meeting and state your purpose up front. With this approach, they’ll be able to discuss possibilities for approvals ahead of time and they will have time dedicated strictly with talking to you for this purpose.

Finally, consider the time of the year when you’re asking for a raise or promotion. For raises, don’t wait until your next review. Put your proposal and arguments for a raise in front of your manager sometime in the middle of the year between your last review and your next one. Why? For two reasons: (1) if it gets approved, you have a chance for possibly three increases in a year and (2) if it doesn’t get approved because of the budget, but your doing good work, your pay increase at your next review will likely be higher because you’ve talked about it ahead of time and they added this factor into the new budget. When it comes to promotions, you can request this at any time. Talk about it with your manager before you formally apply for anything, this way they know you’re interested and might give you some feedback on what you need to do in order to be ready for it.

Get Your Manager and Team to Like You

One of the keys to influencing people is to get them to like you. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

Finding things in common is a good place to start. Spend some time learning about the people around you and take an interest in them. Do you have any common hobbies or interests? Maybe you graduated the same school or grew up in the same neighborhood. Did you take a vacation to a place they just traveled to? Keep looking and you’ll find something you share in common with virtually everyone. You can build your relationship from there. You can also learn a lot about a person by being observant of the items on their desk that will give you clues to what they enjoy, be it dogs, sports, fishing, travel, family, etc.

Be a good listener. The topic people most like to talk about is themselves. If you become the person they know will listen, they will naturally like you. My mother always told me, “you have two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly.” It is amazing what you can learn about your boss and co-workers by actively listening and taking mental notes.

Finally, find ways that you can make their job easier. For managers, one way to do this is to not be a person who needs managing – get your work done on time and done well, so they don’t have to oversee you. Also, as you become better at your job and have the capacity to take on extra work, start looking for ways to take some of your boss’ work-load off their desk. They will be eminently thankful. Likewise, with co-workers, if you see them struggling to keep up with their work, ask how you can help. Even if they don’t take you up on your offer, you’ll be seen as a great team-mate. This is the kind of reputation you want to build and this reputation will spread around.

While working as a Recruiter, I can attest that most of the time, when I saw an internal promotion, it was the manager who approached an employee about a promotion and not the other way around. That person had such an awesome reputation as being someone who worked well with others and could get things done, that the manager wanted that person and that person only. This could be you!

Focus on How You Can Contribute

It’s not enough that you want a raise or promotion, you need to give your employer reasons to want to pay you more or give you more responsibilities. To do this, you need to talk to them about how you’ll be able to contribute for them in the future. In other words, what will they get as a return on their investment in you?


So here we are, you’re sitting in front of your manager ready to talk money or position. We’ve talked a bit about what you should do and things you should bring up, but it all comes down to how you negotiate a deal that will leave both you and the person on the other side of the table happy.

Before you go to your meeting, prepare. If you do just this, the likelihood that you’ll get something positive out of the process will increase dramatically. What should you prepare?

First, determine a minimum that will satisfy you. If we’re talking about a raise, how much do you need to earn moving forward that will make you continue working for your employer and not start looking at other employment opportunities. If you’re meeting about possible promotion, would getting a team lead position rather than supervisor be enough? Or maybe even getting more opportunities to learn new skills in order to be prepared for a promotion could be your minimum. Once you’ve determined this, write it down.

Next, figure out your target. In terms of getting a raise, this is the salary or wage that you’ve come up with that is based on research that you’ve done that gives you an honest idea of what your market value should be. For example, let’s say you find the median annual salary for your job is $50,000 and you’re making $42,000. The median will be pretty close to how much a person with 7 or more years of experience. In the example, you have 4 years of experience. Given you have less experience, maybe your target should be a 10% increase, bringing your salary to $46,200. In terms of promotion, this is the position you actually want to attain.

Finally, come up with the best reasons your manager should give you that raise or promotion. You’ll want to talk about all that you’ve done up to this point that have been positive and how you plan to contribute even more.

Now that your plans are in place, it’s time to carry out those actions by making your case as to why they should give you that raise. Don’t talk about actual dollars and cents, yet. Once you’ve put your arguments on the table, shut up. Let your boss make the first move. You lose your leverage if you talk too much, as the saying goes, “loose lips sink ships,” well, they can sink negotiations too.

Regardless of whether the counter-offer made to  your proposal reaches your target or not, you should thank them and ask for a little time to think it over. Never show outwardly that you’re upset they didn’t offer what you wanted. Stay calm because the negotiation isn’t complete, it’s just starting. Ask for at least a few hours, but preferably a day. This will give you some time to make a careful consideration on the offer as well as determine how to come back with your next proposal.

If they come in lower than you’d hoped for in a raise, this is when you whip out your research, letting them know what you think would be fair based on your experience and the level of performance you bring to the organization. Like we said before, ideally, we’re shooting for the target amount. So you would overshoot it a little bit and concede down toward your target. But if the employer comes in below the minimum, then you are trying to negotiate toward the minimum instead – which is what you’d need minimally to make you want to continue working there.

At this point, you can also seek ways this could benefit both of you. For example, you could possibly talk about additional duties you could take on in your current job or possibly redesigning your job description to justify more. Maybe you’d be willing to stay at the same salary if you were allowed to work from home once a week. Possibly, you could negotiate your shift hours so that they cut down on your commute time or fit better around your personal obligations. There’s plenty of things to negotiate if salary/wages seem to be a sticking point that will leave you and your employer satisfied. You just have to think outside the box.

One thing you should NEVER do during negotiation for a raise or promotion is threaten to leave unless you are truly prepared to walk out. Do you have another offer from an employer already on the table? Do you have enough savings to get you through a period of unemployment? If you answered no to both of these questions, don’t make the threat. An empty threat comes with a high amount of risk. Your employer may call your bluff and you either don’t get a bump in pay or new title, or worse, you could find yourself standing outside the building with a box of your belongings in your hands.

The bottom-line is that even though you may be personally experiencing swings in your emotion during the meeting, do not let them carry you away. Stay positive, confident, and resolved. This attitude will get you further than anger.

Ask for Feedback

One of my favorite Rolling Stones songs tells us, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

The truth is, there are times when the raise or promotion you hoped for just isn’t in the cards for one reason or another. It hurts to hear the word no, but it’s a part of life that you can learn from just as much as if you were told yes. So, should this happen to you, ask why and what you can do in the future to ensure you’ll get a raise or promotion the next time you ask.

It may have nothing to do with you. It could be that your request for a raise wasn’t something they were budgeting for. Maybe you didn’t have a skill that’s crucial to the promotion you needed. Or, it could be that the manager didn’t perceive that you’ve been all that committed to the job and simply doesn’t think you’ve earned it yet.

You’ll never know unless you ask. And only if you know what’s holding you back, will you be able to make changes so that it won’t hold you back any longer. You’ll also be viewed more positively if you ask and then follow through on making adjustments based on their feedback.

Getting negative feedback sucks to hear. But just like medicine, it is the only way to make a sick person healthy. Hearing this feedback is the only way to make a stunted career grow. Take it. Use it. Become a better you. The next thing you know, your boss will be scheduling a meeting with you to talk about your raise or promotion.

Prove to Them They Made the Right Decision

image (1)

Yay! You got the raise or received the promotion. Celebrate tonight, because tomorrow you’ve got work to do! This is not the time to take it easy and bask in your victory. This is the time to show that you can do everything you promised them you would do. When you move to the next level, be it pay or position, it’s time that you level up to in your work habits, attitude, and skills.

So buckle up in your rocket ship. You’re about to blast off!

About RockIt Career Consultation Services

At RockIt Career Consultation Services, our mission is to help you discover your true strengths and use these strengths to set your course to something more rewarding and exciting in your career.

We will guide you on what job or career best suits you and then help you market yourself through your resume, your networking strategies, your interview skills, and your negotiation to ensure that you are doing something you love and are maximizing your earning potential. Throughout, we will be there to keep you motivated and determined.

We’d love to help you launch your career and encourage you to learn more about the services we can provide you on your path to a more prosperous future. With our help, you will become the applicant every company wants to hire!